Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Scientists Make Powerful Case for Global COVID-19 Elimination - World Socialist Web Site

 

Scientists make powerful case for global COVID-19 elimination - World Socialist Web Site

In the October 24 webinar, “How to Stop the Pandemic,” sponsored by the World Socialist Web Site and the International Workers Alliance of Rank-and-File Committees (IWA-RFC), a panel of leading scientists from around the world made a powerful and overwhelming case for the global elimination of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Along with an earlier webinar organized by the WSWS two months ago, Sunday’s event was the only effort to devote time to allow scientists and public health specialists to explain to the public the nature of the pandemic and what must be done. To the extent that there is any discussion of the science of COVID-19, it is mainly confined to scientific journals with a very small circulation, not public events to which working people have direct access.

The webinar was also unique in its international scope. The eight scientists and doctors spoke from five different countries: New Zealand, the UK, the United States, Canada and Pakistan. During the event and in the first 12 hours after it was broadcast, several thousand people from more than 100 countries throughout the world listened in. Among the countries with the highest number of viewers were the US, Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Sri Lanka, Ireland, France, India, Spain, Malaysia and Brazil.

The event was moderated by WSWS International Editorial Board Chairman David North and WSWS writer and practicing physician Dr. Benjamin Mateus. In opening the webinar, North drew attention to the colossal loss of life over the past two years, with the official global death toll now approaching five million people. Citing the Economist, North noted that the real number of deaths is far higher, between 10 and 20 million people. “The world has already paid a terrible price for the deliberate refusal of governments to listen to scientists,” he said.

While originally scheduled for two hours, the webinar lasted for three and a half. Many of the scientists came prepared with detailed slides presenting factual information on the impact of different measures to contain the virus, the health consequences of the disease, and how it is transmitted.

Certain salient facts emerged from the reports that are vital for the public to understand.

Dr. Malgorzata Gasperowicz,a developmental biologist and researcher at the University of Calgary in Canada and cofounder of Zero COVID Canada, presented a report on “The Case for SARS2 Elimination.” She documented the extreme disparity in cases and deaths between provinces in Canada that pursued an elimination strategy and those that pursued a “mitigation” or containment strategy. She also presented mathematical models showing that vaccines alone are not sufficient to stop the spread of the virus.

Dr. Gasperowicz said that her models show that in countries with a high vaccination rate, aggressive measures—including the shutdown of nonessential production and aggressive testing, tracing and isolation—could eliminate the virus within two to three months. While there was some discussion on the length of time that would be required, all the scientists agreed that such a strategy was both viable and necessary.

“Some people claim it is too late, that it is not possible to eliminate now because we have [the Delta variant], because the virus is everywhere,” Dr. Gasperowicz said, but these claims are false. “The math works the same. If we can bend the curve, if we can bring the R value [transmission rate] to a low level, we can eliminate.”

Dr. Michael Baker, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Otago in Wellington, New Zealand, who served on the New Zealand Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Group, delivered a presentation, “Progressive elimination of Covid-19: Is it feasible and desirable?”

Elimination strategies, he concluded, “definitely, definitely do work.” He noted that the World Health Organization has pursued an elimination strategy for many diseases, including polio. China, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Australia, where elimination strategies have been pursued for much or all of the pandemic, have succeeded in limiting deaths to between three and five individuals per million. This compares to nearly 2,000 per million in the United States, which has led to a drop in life expectancy at birth by one and a half years.

Asked by David North whether the recent change in the policy of the New Zealand government to “transition” from its previous approach, under immense economic and political pressure, is very likely to lead to a sharp rise in cases and deaths, Baker stated, “It is, very much so.”

Dr. Jose-Luis Jimenez, professor of chemistry at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and an expert in aerosol physics, delivered a presentation on “The modes of transmission of SARS-CoV-2.” Dr. Jimenez presented slides that showed how SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes Covid-19—is transported within minute aerosol particles from one person to another. They are emitted whenever people speak or even in the process of respiration. This accounts for the extremely infectious character of the disease, particularly in poorly ventilated indoor locations, such as schools.

Jimenez sharply criticized the World Health Organization (WHO) for refusing to acknowledge the aerosolization of the virus for more than a year after the start of the pandemic, calling it “one of the biggest errors in the entire history of public health.” He said that one of the reasons for the resistance in recognizing aerosolization is that it is less “convenient” for governments, as the denial of aerosolization transfers responsibility from governments and businesses that do not implement adequate safety measures to individuals.

Dr. Deepti Gurdasani, a public health researcher at the Queen Mary University in London, delivered a report on Long COVID, which she called “the hidden pandemic after the pandemic.” The report reviewed the alarming data showing that Long COVID symptoms lasting 12-15 weeks or more can affect between two and 14 percent of all people who contract COVID-19. She explained that infected individuals are at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, lung disease, and brain degeneration in regions associated with sense, emotional processing and memory.

Governments, she said, do not want to talk about Long COVID because “if they accept that it is real and problematic, they would have to do a lot more to prevent transmission.”

Replying to a question from Lisa Diaz, a UK parent who has played the leading role in mobilizing opposition to the unsafe reopening of schools, Dr. Gurdasani called the policy of the UK government “frankly criminal.” One in 12 secondary school children and one in 30 primary school children have been infected with COVID-19 in the UK, she said. “In all respects, our government has completely failed to protect children, and the impact of that has been not just mass infection of children but very high rates of Long COVID.”

Dr. Zayar, a medical doctor in Pakistan who worked with the WHO from 2009 to 2014 on the polio eradication initiative, reviewed the catastrophic impact of the pandemic throughout South Asia. “There are millions of more deaths on the subcontinent that are not reported,” he said, noting that the governments in India and Pakistan have sought to cover up their failure to protect the population. “Their first priority… was to open the economy, [even at] the height of the pandemic.”

Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist, health economist and Senior Fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, delivered a powerful indictment of the private control of vaccine production and distribution and the broader policy of governments in response to the pandemic. “The moral backbone of public health has been completely broken by politics,” he said.

The days of petitions and op-eds in newspapers are over, Feigl-Ding said, because “we clearly know that the political powers that want to reopen, let it spread, let it rip, mass infection, ‘live with the virus’—clearly they do not care about all the scientific rationale whatsoever.”

In response to a question from David North about where he saw the pandemic going in the next three to six months without a dramatic change in policy, Fiegl-Ding responded: “On a world scale, we will still be counting bodies in six months’ time. We are going to have a very bad winter in the Northern hemisphere.” Other scientists on the panel agreed with this prognosis.

Dr. Howard Ehrman—a retired family medicine physician, assistant professor at the University of Illinois Chicago College of Medicine and School of Public Health until 2020, and longtime social activist—delivered a scathing denunciation of the reopening of schools promoted by the Biden administration. There have been one million new cases among children in the last five weeks, he noted, and 588 children have died from the pandemic since it began, along with thousands of teachers and staff.

Dr. Ehrman criticized those in the media “who have done everything under Trump and Biden to make parents, teachers, staff, feel guilty, threaten them, and now begin to punish them for keeping their kids at home.”

In addition to the scientists, several workers on the panel discussed the impact that the pandemic has already had on workers, parents and the population as a whole. Lisa Diaz spoke on the catastrophic conditions produced by the reopening of schools in the UK, which she called a “scorched earth policy.”

David O’Sullivan, a London bus driver fired for defending his colleagues’ right to a safe workplace, spoke about the impact on bus drivers of the “herd immunity” policy of the Johnson administration, describing it as “a war on the working class and a war on science. The two go hand in hand.”

Donna, a teacher in the US and member of the Tennessee Educators Rank-and-File Committee, said that she and other teachers “felt abandoned by our leaders, our administrators, and worst of all, our unions.” Workers and scientists, she said, “must join forces against the profit interests of our governments and business leaders if we are to end the pandemic.”

In concluding the meeting, North explained: “The case for elimination, a path that ultimately leads to the eradication of the virus, is so overwhelming from a scientific standpoint, that it is hard to understand that it could possibly be argued against.”

There are definite social interests, however, that have determined policy from the beginning and are working actively against science—the profit interests of the ruling class. “We can’t get around the fact,” North said, “that we live in a society which hails the mindless, ridiculous, useless, extravagance of a ruling elite that can’t think of any better way to use its money than to blast itself into space.”

It is for this reason that the scientific information presented at the webinar has been completely excluded from the capitalist media. Outside of the WSWS forum, there has, since the start of the pandemic, been no systematic effort to educate the population in the science of Long COVID, aerosolization, the role of schools in the transmission of the virus, or any of the critical information that workers must know.

There is also a social force whose interests intersect with scientific truth: the working class, the great mass of the population.

North noted that since the last webinar held in August, there has been a significant growth of class struggle in the US and throughout the world. “The initiative taken by Lisa Diaz, the efforts made by workers in rank-and-file committees to take control of their own struggles and also take control of the fight against unsafe conditions in their factories and their schools, are an indication of a profound change.”

Paraphrasing Marx’s famous statement from his Theses on Feuerbach, North concluded: “The scientists have explained the pandemic. They have shown how it is transmitted, and how that transmission can be stopped. But the challenge of the working class is to end it.”

The wealth of information presented in the October 24 webinar must be studied by every worker in every country. The scientific information and perspective presented at this webinar must be brought into the working class. The fight against the pandemic and the ruling class’s policy of mass death must be fused with the growing struggles of workers throughout the world against exploitation, inequality, dictatorship, war and the capitalist system.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The 90% “No” Vote at Deere & the Growing Rebellion against the Corporatist Unions - World Socialist Web Site

The 90 percent “no” vote at Deere and the growing rebellion against the corporatist unions - World Socialist Web Site:

On Sunday, workers at the agricultural and construction equipment maker Deere & Co. voted by 90 percent to reject a tentative agreement backed by the United Auto Workers (UAW).

A worker inside a Deere plant (John Deere)

The vote was a stunning rebuke to the UAW, which tried to rush through a six-year concessions contract for 10,100 workers without giving them sufficient time to study it. At so-called informational meetings Sunday, workers angrily confronted union officials trying the sell the deal. “Deere and the UAW tried to pull a fast one, but the rank and file fought back,” a worker at the Dubuque, Iowa plant told the WSWS.

Confronting an incipient revolt, the UAW announced it was setting a strike deadline for 11:59 p.m. Wednesday night. Behind the scenes, however, the UAW executives are doing everything to block a strike or isolate and defeat a walkout if it is forced to call one.

The vote at Deere, the first defeat of a UAW-backed agreement at the company in 35 years, is the latest in a series of overwhelming “no” votes by workers in the US in response to union-supported contracts:

  • On April 9, 1,100 Warrior Met coal miners in central Alabama voted 1,006 to 45 (96 percent) to reject the contract pushed by the United Mine Workers of America, which failed to recoup the $6 wage cut the UMWA accepted in 2016.
  • In the late spring and early summer, 3,500 Volvo Trucks workers in Dublin, Virginia, voted down three consecutive UAW-backed contracts, including the first two by 90 percent or more. The UAW was only able to shut down a five-week strike by forcing a revote on the third rejected deal, which it claimed passed by 17 votes.
  • In August and early September, 3,500 auto parts workers at Dana Inc.—a top supplier for Deere—rejected a five-year contract proposed by the UAW and United Steelworkers by more than 90 percent, with workers at the Toledo, Ohio, plant voting unanimously against the deal. More than a month after the defeat of the contract, the UAW and USW are blocking a strike that would have an immediate impact on the auto industry, keeping workers on the job and stockpiling parts with a day-by-day contract extension.
  • Twelve thousand carpenters in western Washington state rejected four consecutive agreements pushed by the Northwest Pacific Carpenters Union (NWCU) by margins as high as 76 percent. The NWCU was forced to call a strike on September 16, but it kept 10,000 of the 12,000 carpenters working and ultimately pushed through a fifth contract.
  • Late last week, McLaren Health nurse aides and other service workers in Flint and other mid-Michigan cities rejected by a three-to-one margin a deal reached by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) to block a strike over dangerously high patient ratios and increased out-of-pocket health costs.

That massive, nearly unanimous “no” votes are now becoming the norm gives expression to an enormous anger and desire to fight among workers. The union bureaucracy’s age-old methods of ramming through pro-company contracts—lies about winning “substantial gains” or “the best contract you are going to get” and the use of threats and economic pressure to browbeat workers—are running up against a wall of opposition.

This is part of the emergence of the largest strike movement in the United States in generations. The first five days of October saw the beginning of 10 new strikes in the US, including 2,500 nurses at Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, New York, and 1,400 Kellogg’s food-processing workers in Michigan and other states. In addition, 60,000 Hollywood film and television workers and 35,000 Kaiser Permanente health care workers have voted to strike.

“Thousands of workers have gone on strike across the country, showing their growing power in a tightening economy,” Time magazine wrote last week. “The leverage US employees have over the people signing their paychecks was amplified in Friday’s jobs report, which showed that employers added workers at a much slower-than-expected pace in September,” Time wrote, adding, “and wages are continuing to tick up across industries as employers become more desperate to hire and retain workers.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer pointed to a “new take-this-job-and-shove-it mentality,” noting that “the upside-down condition of the job market has fed-up workers more inclined to fight back and call their bosses on their threats…”

There are certain characteristics of this emerging movement that are particularly significant.

First, the development of the class struggle is pitting workers in direct opposition to the corporatist trade unions. The margin of the contract rejections at Deere, Volvo, Dana and other companies expresses the real relationship between the so-called “unions” and the working class.

These organizations, which function as a labor police force for management and are run by union executives with incomes in the top 5 percent of income earners, if not higher, are completely disconnected from and hostile to the needs and aspirations of the workers they falsely claim to “represent.” Under conditions of explosive social anger, their primary concern is to prove their usefulness to management and the state by ramming through pro-company agreements one way or another.

The Biden administration is aggressively promoting the unions as instruments to suppress working-class resistance and divert social opposition behind its plans for trade war and military confrontation with China. Last week, a White House pro-union “task force” held its second official meeting, with top military and economic cabinet members—including Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo—discussing final preparations of a report on steps the administration will take to promote the expansion of the trade unions.

The defenders of the authority of the unions among the pseudo-left, themselves aligned with the Biden administration and the Democratic Party, refer to the Socialist Equality Party and the World Socialist Web Site as “sectarian” because of our call for the formation of rank-and-file committees. Their principal concern, however, is that the campaign led by the WSWS for the development of independent organizations of working-class struggle is winning a mass response.

At Deere, WSWS articles have been read by thousands of workers, who have distributed them at the plants and shared them on social media. Like the Dana workers and Volvo Trucks workers before them, the WSWS has been central in encouraging and assisting Deere workers in developing their own independent initiative through the formation of a rank-and-file committee.

Second, the upsurge of working-class struggles in the US is part of an international process. This includes the strikes by 150,000 metal workers in South Africa; 90,000 healthcare workers in Sri Lanka; healthcare, train and airport workers in Germany; and the October 1 UK parents strike “global picket line” against the spread of COVID-19. Global corporations like Deere, which has operations in 70 countries, can only be fought by unifying the working class across all national borders.

Third, the growth of the class struggle is inseparably connected to the struggle against the pandemic. The ruling class is seeking to suppress wages in the face of rising prices for food, fuel and other necessities. At the same time, it is imposing ever-longer hours and relentless speedup in its scramble to offset the global supply chain crisis, as well as labor shortages driven by millions refusing to labor in COVID-infected workplaces.

Over the last 20 months of the pandemic, millions of lives have been sacrificed for corporate profit, while the world’s billionaires have seen their wealth surge by $5.5 trillion. Far from making any concessions to the “heroes” and “essential workers” who have endured sickness and death, the corporate and financial oligarchy is determined to exploit the pandemic to establish a “new normal” of unrelenting exploitation. But this is provoking a growing strike wave in the US and internationally, under conditions in which the efforts to force workers back into unsafe workplaces by eliminating unemployment benefits and ending eviction moratoriums has thus far failed to produce the intended results.

On May 1, the International Committee of the Fourth International initiated the call for the formation of the International Workers Alliance of Rank-and-File Committees (IWA-RFC) to organize a global response by the working class to save lives. Now the struggle to demand policies to eradicate the pandemic, including the closure of nonessential workplaces and schools, is intersecting with a growing movement against capitalist exploitation.

We call on all workers at Deere and all sections of the working class, in the US and internationally, to register and attend the October 24 online webinar with leading scientists, “How to end the pandemic: The case for eradication,” co-sponsored by the WSWS and the IWA-RFC.

Saturday, October 09, 2021

“At least half the battle is at home”: The Domestic Considerations Behind the US Provocations Against China - World Socialist Web Site

“At least half the battle is at home”: The domestic considerations behind the US provocations against China - World Socialist Web Site

 

The United States is systematically working to provoke an escalation of tensions with China over Taiwan.

Multiple aircraft fly in formation over the USS Ronald Reagan, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier [Credit: Kaila V. Peters/U.S. Navy]

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that US troops have been stationed in Taiwan, which China considers part of its territory, for over one year. The Journal’s revelations, which Chinese officials saw as being a semi-official announcement by the US government, came amid the most dangerous standoff between the US and China since the 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis.

The US Navy has been carrying out major war games near Taiwan, following the announcement of the alliance between Australia, the UK and the US (AUKUS), which includes providing Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.

These developments followed the revelation in March that the United States is in active discussions to station offensive missiles on the “first island chain” off the Chinese mainland, including Okinawa and Taiwan.

In 1962, when the Soviet Union stationed missiles in Cuba, a sovereign country nearly 100 miles from Florida, the United States declared that the USSR must either remove the missiles or face war. Today, Washington is stationing troops, and possibly offensive weapons, on territory claimed by China just minutes of flight time from China’s most populous cities.

The response in China gives a sense of the potentially massive consequences of the United States’ actions. The Global Times, which speaks for dominant sections of the Chinese political establishment, called America’s actions tantamount to an “invasion” in an editorial Friday.

It is clear that the Biden administration is trying to goad China into some sort of response, provoking an incident that can be seized on to create a de facto state of war. The US may not want a full-scale conflict involving nuclear weapons, but war has a logic of its own once provocation turns into an exchange of arms.

What is behind these extraordinarily reckless actions? There are certainly the geopolitical imperatives of American imperialism, and China has become a central target of US war planning over the past decade. The military considerations, however, are not the only ones dictating the situation. A major factor is the US domestic political crisis.

Twenty months into the global COVID-19 pandemic, the United States is a social powder keg. More than 725,000 Americans have lost their lives to the pandemic, or one out of 500 people. Prices are rapidly rising amid a widespread labor shortage. Workers in industries throughout the country are beginning to demand pay and benefits commensurate with the increased cost of living.

These demands are coalescing into a nationwide strike movement. Despite the efforts of the corporatist unions to suppress all opposition in the working class, there have been strikes in recent weeks of Kellogg’s cereal workers, nurses in New York, distillery workers in Kentucky, and carpenters in Seattle. There is seething anger among auto and auto parts workers, who are rejecting contract after contract brought back to them by the unions.

Over the past year and a half, the American ruling class, as it implemented a policy of mass death, has handed itself trillions of dollars, inflating a massive stock market bubble that can be sustained only through the relentless increase in the exploitation of the working class.

Throughout history, and particularly in the 20th century, governments have seen war as a means of enforcing “national unity” in the face of mounting political opposition. In 1967, historian Arno J. Mayer noted, in an article “Domestic Causes of the First World War”:

During the decade, including the weeks immediately preceding July-August 1914, the European nations experienced more than routine political and social disturbances. Even Britain, that paradigm of ordered change and constitutionalism, was approaching the threshold of civil war.

This growth of social tensions, Mayer noted, “inclined the governments to push [military] preparedness and diplomatic obduracy as part of their efforts to maintain a precarious domestic status quo.”

So, today, under conditions of deepening social, political and economic crisis, dominant sections of the American ruling class see a conflict with China as a mechanism for enforcing “national unity,” which means, in practice, suppressing and criminalizing domestic opposition.

This view is spelled out by Financial Times columnist Janan Ganesh in a February 20201 column titled, “America’s best hope of hanging together is China.” Ganesh concluded, “Without an external foe to rail against, the nation turns on itself,” adding, “only an external foe” can end the “age of discord.”

In June 2019, the former intelligence officer and current transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg made clear that a common external enemy would serve as the basis for “national unity” and the “battle” at home. “The new China challenge provides us with an opportunity to come together across the political divide,” he said. “At least half the battle is at home.”

The First and Second World Wars were accompanied by systematic censorship in the United States and the imprisonment of left-wing opponents of capitalism. In 1918, socialist Eugene Debs was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his opposition to World War I. In 1941, 18 members of the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party were sentenced under the Smith Act to between 12 and 16 months in prison.

More recently, the attacks of September 11, 2001 were utilized to implement far-reaching attacks on democratic rights under the framework of the “war on terror”: the Patriot Act, Guantanamo Bay, domestic spying, and other measures aimed at erecting the apparatus of a police state. As the WSWS noted at the time, the ruling elite “seized on the tragic events of September 11 to realize their political agenda at home, just as they are using them to launch a US military intervention in oil-rich Central Asia.”

And what has happened over the past twenty years? Social inequality has grown to new heights. The American ruling class, in the form of the plots of Trump, has raised the prospect of a fascistic dictatorship. The criminality of the oligarchy, under both the Democrats and Republicans, has led to a level of death from the pandemic that is staggering.

The working class must be on alert. The pandemic has made clear that the American ruling class is capable of sacrificing hundreds of thousands of lives to achieve its goals. If the deaths of millions of people in war is the “least bad” of several unfavorable options for the ruling class, these deaths will be tolerated.

All over the world, workers are entering into struggle to demand the end of decades of falling or stagnant wages, horrendous and worsening working conditions, and an end to the pandemic. These struggles must be connected to the fight against imperialist war, the plots against democratic rights, and opposition to the entire capitalist system.

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Women’s March Events Demonstrate Mass Support for Abortion Rights - World Socialist Web Site

 

Women’s March events demonstrate mass support for abortion rights - World Socialist Web Site

Mass protests in support of the right to an abortion took place over the weekend. An estimated 250,000 people gathered at more than 600 rallies and marches across the country on Saturday to oppose the Texas abortion ban and the refusal of the Supreme Court to uphold Roe v. Wade.

The scale of the protests demonstrates the broad support for abortion rights in the United States. There were an estimated 10,000 or more at protests in Austin and Houston, Texas, Washington D.C., Los Angeles and New York City, while thousands more gathered in the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, Boston and dozens of other large cities. There were protests in hundreds of smaller cities and towns, ranging from college towns to regional centers.

A portion of Saturday's protest at the state capitol in Austin, Texas (WSWS)

While the overwhelming majority of those participating were women, there were substantial numbers of men as well, gathered to voice their support for abortion rights. College students and other young people made up a huge proportion of those attending, but there were marchers of all ages, from children to the elderly.

The marchers took COVID-19 more seriously than the corporate media and political establishment. Most were masked and many observed a six-foot social distancing, and appeals to keep masks on and maintain distance were regularly issued by speakers and march organizers.

Many marchers targeted the Texas state government and Governor Greg Abbott for stinging attacks. One hand-printed sign which hit its target denounced Abbott for combining the abortion ban and a “let it rip” policy on the COVID-19 pandemic. The sign read: “Texas: Where a virus has reproductive rights and a woman doesn’t.”

There were numerous attacks (from marchers, not the interminable pro-Democratic Party speakers) on the role of organized religion in the attack on reproductive rights. One mocking sign, hand-lettered in the style of a Bible verse, read: “Thou shalt not mess with women’s reproductive rights: Fallopians 10:2.”

The spirited nature and wide scope of the demonstrations are reflective of the broad support for abortion rights that exists in the general population. According to polling data gathered by Pew Research earlier this year, 59 percent of people in the United States believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Despite this popular support, the size of the protests was considerably smaller than the millions who showed up for the inaugural Women’s Marches in 2017, the day after Trump’s inauguration. This must be attributed to a number of factors, including a justifiable concern over COVID-19, and an equally justifiable sentiment, after years of such protests, that pleading with corporate-controlled politicians to protect democratic rights is a dead end.

There are likely to be, as well, illusions that with the end of the Trump administration, the threat to democratic rights, including abortion rights, has receded. However, the Guttmacher Institute, which carries out systematic studies on the issue, reported that more state laws were introduced to restrict abortion rights in the six months since Biden was inaugurated than in any previous six-month period.

The severity of the attack in Texas, combined with the upcoming Supreme Court hearing on a Mississippi law which could provide the vehicle for a decision to overturn Roe v. Wade outright, might be expected to garner a larger response. That this was not the case is the result of the feckless politics of the Democratic Party and its supporters who organized the rallies.

One particularly disoriented aspect of the rallies were signs proclaiming that “men” in general, not right-wing or bigoted men (and women), were the primary threat to abortion rights. This presents abortion rights as a gender issue rather than a class issue, in keeping with the Democratic Party’s advocacy of identity politics.

But restrictions on abortion overwhelmingly impact the working class and poor. Wealthy women will always have access to safe abortions. Regardless of the legal status of abortion services, women from the ruling class may simply use their wealth and power to slip past the law and avoid the crushing penalties.

The focus on gender ignores the reality that female governors like Kristi Noem in South Dakota and Kay Ivey in Alabama are just as fervent in their opposition to abortion rights as Greg Abbott in Texas.

Pew Research demonstrates that 56 percent of men support abortion rights, compared to 62 percent of women. Much more influential than gender are factors such as religious and political sentiments.

Many rallies were addressed by local and state Democratic officials, along with a host of Democratic-aligned celebrities, peddling the same electoral posturing that has achieved nothing for abortion rights in decades.

At the rally in Austin, Texas, was a slate of Texas Democratic Party politicians, including US Rep. Lloyd Doggett, Texas State Senator Sarah Eckhardt, and other local officials. They were joined by a slate of speakers who doused themselves in identity politics, introducing themselves as “a woman of color,” “a Latina woman,” and “an Asian-American ally of the transgender community.”

Following the rollout of their identity credentials, these speakers proceeded to do little more than promote the Democratic Party and offer meaningless displays of disapproval of the fascistic Republican Party.

One speaker stated, “The Republicans are coming to take away your rights and only we can stop them.” Another encouraged attendees to “blow your whistles on three to show the GOP our voices will be heard.”

The Democratic Party exploits mass opposition to attacks on abortion rights to further its own electoral fortunes, but once in office, the Democrats do nothing to defend or expand this democratic right, accepting such atrocities as the Hyde Amendment, which bars most federal funding for abortion services.

As recently as 2018, Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi denied that there was any “litmus test” on abortion rights for Democratic Party candidates. In other words, Democratic congressmen who are anti-choice can still expect the full support of the party apparatus, as well as anti-choice candidates who win a party primary.

The ruling on Roe v. Wade was issued in 1973, nearly 50 years ago. Since then, the Democratic Party has made no serious effort to codify abortion rights in federal law. When it has had majorities in the House and Senate, the Democratic Party failed to pass any federal legislation that would prevent what is occurring in Texas today. Currently, there is more federal legislation restricting abortion access than expanding it.

Along with the appeals to electoral politics were frequent references to late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. News reports show signs and posters urging the Supreme Court to intervene on behalf of abortion rights. A Supreme Court with a 6-3 ultra-right majority can hardly be entrusted with the defense of fundamental democratic rights.

The fight to protect abortion rights must be taken out of the hands of the Democratic Party. It has done nothing to mobilize any meaningful effort to protect abortion rights beyond using the threat to Roe v. Wade to promote its electoral interests.

But now there is a Democratic-controlled House, a Democratic-controlled Senate, and a Democrat in the White House. Yet the Democratic Party has proven incapable of passing its own voting rights bills, not just because there is Republican opposition, but because representatives and senators of its own party do not wish to protect democratic rights.

A party that is abandoning the most fundamental democratic right of them all, the right to vote, cannot be relied upon to protect the right of a woman to get an abortion.

Working people must break with this dead-end political orientation. The Democratic Party is offering nothing to defend women’s rights or democratic rights in general. The only social force capable of defending abortion rights is the working class itself. It must not put faith in the confused, disoriented and reactionary political conceptions promoted by the Democratic Party.

The capitalist system is clawing back every concession made over the past century of working class struggle. Only through the fight for socialism can these gains, including the right to an abortion, be protected from the right-wing politics of the two major capitalist parties.